No more special treatment: Zambia revokes ex-president Edgar Lungu’s benefits in bold political move

Former Zambian leader Edgar Lungu

Zambia’s government has taken action against former President Edgar Lungu by withdrawing his retirement benefits and privileges following his decision to re-enter active politics.

After losing the presidency to Hakainde Hichilema in 2021, Lungu initially announced his retirement. However, his return to the political arena sets the stage for a highly contested presidential race in 2026.

The government’s decision to revoke Lungu’s retirement benefits was confirmed by government spokesman Cornelius Mweetwa. According to Mweetwa, it is clearly stated in the law that former presidents who engage in politics again forfeit their benefits. As a retired president, Lungu was entitled to various privileges, including security officers, a diplomatic passport, state cars, a furnished house, medical insurance, funeral expenses, and immunity from prosecution.

Mweetwa emphasized that Lungu would now be treated “equally under the law” like any other senior citizen of Zambia. The former president aims to capitalize on public dissatisfaction with the country’s ongoing economic challenges under his successor. Civil society groups have also expressed concerns about the perceived erosion of human rights freedoms in Zambia.

During his announcement to return to politics, Lungu stated his intention to fight for and defend democracy in the country, as well as to rescue his factionalized Patriotic Front party from collapse. The government has threatened to deregister the party due to leadership disputes.

Mweetwa refuted Lungu’s recent claims that supporters of the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) were targeting him. He dismissed Lungu’s assertions of threats to his life as a “false alarm,” stating that the former leader enjoys the same level of security as any other citizen.

However, Lungu was cautioned against engaging in confrontational politics against President Hichilema’s government. Previously, the police warned him against jogging in public, labelling his exercise routine as “political activism.”

It remains uncertain whether Lungu’s immunity from prosecution will be lifted. In the past, Zambia’s parliament revoked immunity for two former presidents, Frederick Chiluba in 2002 and Rupiah Banda in 2013. Some members of the ruling UPND have called for Lungu’s immunity to be removed, citing alleged corruption during his presidency. Lungu has dismissed these allegations as politically motivated.

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